October 2016

eRA Enhancement: Redesigned Section in RPPR to Help Grantees Categorize Products Developed Under a Grant

eRA Enhancement: Redesigned Section in RPPR to Help Grantees Categorize Products Developed Under a Grant

Grantees filling out a Research Performance Progress Report in eRA Commons are expected to list significant products developed with their grant in Section C of the RPPR, namely websites, technology and other products.

The product sections of the RPPR have been redesigned recently to help grantees better categorize the products arising from their grant.  A new scrollable menu lists 14 product categories under which to list the product(s): Audio or video; data or databases; research material; educational aids or curricula; evaluation instruments; instruments or equipment; models; physical collections; protocols; software; survey instruments; interventions (e.g. clinical or educational); new business creation and other.

After entering a description for one or more reportable products in a text box, the grantee can then select appropriate categories for the product using a scrollable menu.  Grantees are not limited to a single category per product; please select as many categories as appropriate for the product being reported. 

In addition, grantees can turn to a new resource ‘Guide to Categorizing Products in RPPR’s Section C’ to find definitions, examples and distinctions to help them decide which categories are appropriate for their product(s). For instance, videos developed to elicit behavioral change, such as counseling or motivational videos, or to instruct patients, may also meet the definition of clinical intervention.

Figure 1: Screenshot of a subsection of RPPR Section C, displaying the scrollable menu on the left.

This menu can be found in all three subsections of Section C: websites (C.2), technology (C.3) and other products (C.5). Grantees who do not have a product to report can click on the ‘Nothing to Report’ checkbox.


Citizen Scientists Can Now Lend a Hand in Penguin Conservation

Tracking penguin populations in Antarctica is a critical component of understanding environmental changes in the region. Now, thanks to a collaboration between NASA and Stony Brook University, citizen scientists can lend a hand through the use of a new, interactive, and user-friendly website that tracks Antarctic penguin populations and provides information to scientists.

New online tool will assist in tracking Antarctic penguins.

The tool, known as the Mapping Application for Penguin Populations and Projected Dynamics (MAPPPD) and available at www.penguinmap.com, is the first of its kind to give citizen scientists a lens into the world of scientists working to understand how environmental change, fishing, and tourism may be affecting Antarctica’s iconic birds.

“The launch of this website has the potential to greatly improve management and collaboration around the Antarctic,” said Heather Lynch, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University, who led the project. “MAPPPD contains data for approximately 1300 historical and current surveys in over 700 sites around the Antarctic continent. These data come primarily from published literature, though population estimates based on satellite imagery are also used by researchers and represents a growing component of MAPPPD’s utility.”

Lynch, along with Mathew Schwaller of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, teamed up with Washington, DC-based NGO Oceanites, Inc. to develop the new website, which will allow scientists and policy makers to make conservation decisions regarding the Antarctic environment.

Antarctica has always been a challenging place to work, and penguin researchers have struggled to track populations of penguins breeding in Antarctica’s most remote areas. But recent developments in using satellite imagery from NASA and other sources have paved the way for a more complete understanding of where penguins breed and how their populations might be changing.

While the satellite imagery cannot detect the penguins themselves, it can detect the large guano stains the penguins produce while incubating their nests. Lynch and her team have been able to use the imagery to locate new colonies of penguins that no one knew existed, some of which are among the largest in the world.

The website also allows anyone to query all publicly available penguin census data. Any user can also access the latest modeled population estimates for Adélie penguins around the Antarctic continent, as well as the probability of presence and breeding for all other avian species on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Lynch also explained that researchers with data to contribute to MAPPPD have a variety of ways to do so, as do keen-eyed tourists who, in the summer months, actually outnumber scientists in the region and can contribute important information through bird checklists and photographs.

Additionally, MAPPPD’s utility as a data hub for Antarctic penguin biologists will grow as new datasets are uncovered and can be integrated into population models that both describe past trends and may be used to predict future trends.

The easy-to-use interface includes a number of informative outputs that are immediately available for environmental impact assessments or scientific reports. The website also contains fact sheets on the four penguin species for which count data are available, links to relevant publications, and information about how users can contribute their own data.

For MAPPPD partner and end user, Oceanites, Inc., the website is a new tool for its Antarctic inventory project. “MAPPPD will immediately assist a wide range of Antarctic stakeholders, from other researchers and governments to NGOs and the public at large,” said Oceanites Founder and President Ron Naveen.

Update from NIH Regarding eRA Commons Browser Usage

eRA Information: Please Update Your Browsers by Nov. 30 to Use eRA Modules; New Security Mandated For Websites
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

eRA has been working on strengthening the security of its modules, web services and websites to the federally mandated ‘https only’ secure connection required for all federal agencies.

The ‘https’ connection offers “the strongest privacy and integrity protection currently available for public web connections,” the Office of Management and Budget wrote in mandating federal agencies adopt this standard by the end of 2016.

Effective November 30, 2016, all eRA modules (eRA Commons, ASSIST, IAR and iEdison), web services and websites will use ‘https only’ secure connections.

What This Means for You

You may need to update your web browser to continue using eRA modules:
· With this policy, some browser versions will no longer work.
· Here is a list of browsers and versions that will still work properly following the update:

These three are also the browsers eRA uses to develop and test its modules for browser compatibility, as listed in the eRA Browser Compatibility statement. While lower versions are listed below, we encourage you to upgrade to the versions listed in our browser compatibility statement above to ensure you have an optimal experience when using eRA modules.

o Google Chrome® version and higher

o Firefox® version 4 and higher; with Firefox 17, Mozilla® integrates a list of websites supporting the new protocol

o Internet Explorer® 11 on Windows® 8.1 and Windows® 7 when KB 3058515 or higher is installed (Released on Windows Update in June 2015)

These four are the other browser versions that will work with the security upgrade, but are not included in the in the eRA Browser Compatibility statement:

o Chromium®

o Opera® version 12 and later

o Safari® as of OS X Mavericks
o Microsoft® Edge™ and Internet Explorer® 11 on Windows® 10

More information is available at https://https.cio.gov/ and OMB M-15-13.


NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide for 2017

NSF is pleased to announce that a revised version of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), (NSF 17-1) has been issued. The PAPPG has been modified in its entirety, to remove all references to the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) and Award & Administration Guide (AAG). The document will now be referred to solely as the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide. The document will be sequentially numbered from Chapter I-XII and all references throughout have been modified to reflect this change. 

Given the number of important revisions, the community is strongly encouraged to review the by-chapter summary of changes provided at the beginning of the PAPPG.

The new PAPPG will be effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 30, 2017. In addition to the significant change mentioned above, other revisions include:

  • Addition of new sections on Special Processing Instructions and Types of Proposals, including two new types, RAISE and GOALI;
  • Additional instructions for proposers on completion of the Collaborators and Other Affiliations information;
  • Supplemental guidance on submission of proposals by organizations impacted by a natural or anthropogenic disaster;
  • Implementation of 45 CFR 690.118 for applications and proposals lacking definite plans for involvement of human subjects;
  • Update on the type of information that NSF may request from proposers with regard to Federal environmental statutes;
  • Supplemental information regarding treatment of NSF awards with canceled appropriations; and
  • Numerous other changes and clarifications throughout the document.
  • Webinars to brief the community on the new PAPPG will be held on November 7th and January 19th at 1 PM EST.

Registration is required on the outreach events website. While this version of the PAPPG becomes effective on January 30, 2017, in the interim, the guidelines contained in the current PAPPG (NSF 16-1) continue to apply. NSF will ensure that the current version of the PAPPG remains on the NSF website, with a notation to proposers that specifies when the new PAPPG (including a link to the new Guide) will become effective.

If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact the Policy Office on (703) 292-8243 or by e-mail to policy@nsf.gov.

A list of all the major changes can be found on this cheat sheet.


Two Physics Professors Named APS Fellows

Underscoring the university’s exceptional strength in the field of physics, two SBU professors in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Alexander G. Abanov , PhD, and  Axel Drees, PhD, have been named American Physical Society (APS) Fellows.

Axel Drees, left, and Alexander Abanov, Stony Brook University Physics Professors both elected as 2016 APS Fellows.

Made up of scientists nationally and internationally, the APS works to advance and disseminate the knowledge of physics through research, education, outreach, advocacy and international activities.  The APS fellowship annual election honors members who have contributed extensively to the physics enterprise, by way of research, leadership, or education. No more than one percent of the 5,000 plus members are elected in a given year. (See complete list of 2016 APS Fellows).

Professor Abanov began his tenure at Stony Brook in 2000. He has a passion for physics education and teaches physics and math at all levels from high school to graduate students. The APS nominated him within the Division of Condensed Matter Physics and cited his election as an APS fellow “For pioneering contributions to electronic condensed matter physics using topological and hydrodynamic methods.”

Professor Abanov works in theoretical condensed matter physics. He specializes in strongly interacting electron systems, such as quantum hall systems. In these systems the collective behavior of electrons is essentially determined by quantum effects. Dr. Abanov’s research is characterized by the use of methods of quantum field theory and hydrodynamics in condensed matter theory.

Professor Drees, also Chair of the Department, has been at Stony Brook since 1998. Nominated by the Division of Nuclear Physics, the APS cited his election “For having a leading role in the discovery of the suppression of high momentum hadrons and jet quenching in heavy ion collisions at the Relativistic Heavy ion Collider, and his key contributions to the discovery that hadron properties are modified near the transition to the quark-gluon plasma through the measurement of electron-positron pairs.”

He is one of the lead scientists in the  PHENIX experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). RHIC is an atom smasher that allows scientists to create and study tiny droplets of quark-gluon plasma, a hot and dense form of matter in which protons and neutrons melt and their substructure – quarks and gluons – are freed. This plasma is believed to have filled the universe until ten millionths of a second after the Big Bang. Through their contributions to the discovery of jet quenching and other work, Drees and his team helped to demonstrate that quark-gluon plasma is created in collisions of gold atoms at RHIC.

National Grid Supports Next Generation Engineering at Stony Brook

International energy delivery company National Grid has awarded a sustainable grant to the Next Generation Engineering Programs at Stony Brook University, which promote engineering among diverse and high-needs populations and meet the requirements of the Next Generation Science Standards.

These programs offer after-school, hands-on engineering activities for high school students as well as professional development for in-service teachers on engineering learning and workshops on STEM for school counselors. The program focuses on high-needs schools and underrepresented groups, and is led by Mónica Bugallo, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Angela Kelly, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“The support from National Grid will be transformational in the development of newly designed engineering experiences for traditionally underserved students,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University. “These programs are consistent with the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences mission to attract and retain an inclusive academic community.”

Luis Godinez showing off his fully programmed arduino in his completed persistence of vision project.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, the after-school program for students was successfully piloted at Central Islip School District. “The Stony Brook program has been fantastic,” said Central Islip Superintendent Craig Carr. “Our students are emulating your skills, work ethic and drive. “With your help, we have improved our sciences so greatly that of the 30 top students, 25 stated that they were following careers in the sciences.”

“Stony Brook University has a rich tradition of outreach and partnerships with K-12 schools throughout Southeastern New York,” said Keith Sheppard, director of the Stony Brook Institute for STEM Education. “The Next Generation Engineering Programs will develop innovative opportunities to attract a diverse talent pool of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.”

“We, along with other utilities across the country, are facing a looming shortage of engineers, so it makes sense for us to work with Stony Brook University in developing the next generation of talent needed to help support the nation’s energy delivery system,” said Mauri Myers-Solages, Corporate Citizenship Manager of National Grid.

For more information abut these programs, please call (631) 632-9750 or e-mailmonica.bugallo@stonybrook.ed

University-related Travel to Cuba and Iran

As you may have seen in recent news reports, the U.S. government has eased the embargoes on Cuba and Iran that are overseen by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).  As a result, there has been an increase in travel to these countries for academic and research purposes. While travel to these countries is possible under certain circumstances, current regulations still limit the permissible reasons for the travel and the allowable activities within the countries.   Some travel falls under a “general license” not requiring prior authorization from OFAC but still requiring adherence to regulations; other travel, depending on the purpose and activity, requires a specific license before a visit may be made.  In addition, the regulations include mandatory record keeping requirements.

  • Cuba

Despite a significant thawing of relations with Cuba, the U.S. government has not authorized unrestricted travel there.  The prohibition on travel for purely tourist purposes, for example, still remains in place.  Travelers on official University business must meet the requirements of the specific authorizations described in the regulations (the requirements for a “general license”) or obtain a specific license from OFAC prior to the trip.    Therefore, it is imperative to consult with the University’s Export Control Officer prior to any University-related travel to Cuba. 

  • Iran

In most cases, travelers on official University business will need prior U.S. government approval in the form of a license in order to conduct activities in Iran. Providing a service (something of value) or importing information or other goods requires an OFAC license. Such activities include, but are not limited to, attending or speaking at a conference, performing research, or teaching.  Travel plans must therefore be reviewed by the University’s Export Control Officer.

Travel that does not comply with U.S. government requirements puts both the traveler and the University at risk of potentially severe sanctions.  Therefore, any planned University-related travel to Cuba or Iran must be reviewed and approved by the University’s Export Control Officer, Susan Gasparo, before travel plans are made.  The following information must be provided:   destination country, travel dates, names of person(s) traveling and relationship to the university (faculty, staff, graduate student, etc.), nature and description of visit, proposed itinerary (if available) and name of person(s) and/or entities you will visit, payment source for the travel, and if you intend to bring any equipment, technology or data with you. 

Susan Gasparo can be reached via email at susan.gasparo@stonybrook.edu or via phone at 632-1954.  It is important that travel plans are reviewed and approved well in advance of travel dates because some licenses require several months to obtain.


Rich Reeder

Christopher Johnson Awarded Air Force Young Investigators Award

Christopher Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at Stony Brook University, received a Young Investigators Grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for his project, “Probing Electronic Structure and Energy Transfer in Protected Metal Nanoparticles by Mass-Selective Spectroscopy.”

Johnson’s laboratory will be using newly developed experimental techniques to provide unprecedentedly specific insights into the role that chemical interactions play in controlling how energy and charge are transferred into and out of the core of metallic particles with diameters of ~1 nanometer. This work will use an instrument custom-built by his group to choose nanoparticles with exactly known atomic compositions, cool them to a few degrees above absolute zero, and probe charge localization and movement within them using laser spectroscopy. A fundamental understanding of how to customize the molecules bound to the surface of nanoparticles to direct these processes will be important for engineering complex nanoscale systems in electronics, sensing, catalysis and more.

Before coming to Stony Brook, Johnson was a National Science Foundation American Competitiveness in Chemistry Fellow at Yale University.

Learn more about the Johnson Lab

More About the Award
The objective of the Air Force’s Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for the young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering. YIP is open to scientists and engineers at research institutions across the United States who received PhD or equivalent degrees in the last five years and show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research. This year the YIP awarded approximately $20.8 million in grants to 58 scientists and engineers from 41 research institutions and small businesses.


Optional Electronic Submission Method to Request to Submit An Unsolicited Application That Will Exceed $500,000 In Direct Costs

Notice Number: NOT-OD-17-005

Key Dates
Release Date: October 6, 2016

Related Announcements
Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH has a longstanding policy that states any applicant requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs (excluding consortium F&A costs) in any one budget period within a competitive segment is required to contact the NIH Institute or Center (IC) Program Official (PO), in writing or by telephone, as early as possible during development of the application but no later than 6 weeks before submission for prior approval. Since NIH supports projects with large budgets, the purpose of this policy is for fiscal planning and therefore it provides NIH ICs the appropriate amount of time to consider the possibility of such awards as early as possible in the budget and program planning process.

This notice informs NIH applicants that requests to submit an unsolicited application that will exceed $500,000 in direct costs will now have an option to submit this request electronically through eRA Commons, under a new Prior Approval Module.

After initial communication with the NIH, a PO may open up a request form for the Principal Investigator (PI) in eRA Commons. The PI will complete the form and submit it back to the initiating PO for review.

Instructions for how to use this new system can be found in the Prior Approval User Guide. For more information on the policy, see section of the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Please note that this notice does not reflect a change in policy. This notice is only being issued to identify an optional submission process change in line with NIH’s efforts to move toward electronic submission of prior approval requests.

General inquiries about this notice may be directed to:


AHRQ Policy Guidance Regarding Inflationary Increases (aka, cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs) beginning in Fiscal Year 2017

AHRQ Policy Guidance Regarding Inflationary Increases (aka, cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs) beginning in Fiscal Year 2017
Notice Number: NOT-HS-17-001

Key Dates
Release Date: October 5, 2016

Related Announcements
Issued by
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (http://www.ahrq.gov)

This Notice provides guidance about AHRQ's treatment of inflationary increases or "COLAs," as they are often referred to.

Historically, AHRQ has not automatically allowed inflationary increases/COLAs. Rather, during negotiation of competing grant awards, when the applicant institution could provide historical evidence of annual COLA rates that it had paid, using its own funds, for the past three consecutive years, AHRQ awarded a COLA not to exceed the average of the historical COLA rates. If an institution had not historically paid COLAs using its own funds, it would not receive COLAs in its AHRQ awards, regardless of whether it was the institution's internal policy to request COLAs from federal agencies. In addition, AHRQ does not allow escalations for anticipatory or contingent personnel costs such as merit increases, performance-based increases, promotions, etc.

Effective Oct 1, 2016, inflationary increases or COLAs for future year commitments will be discontinued for all competing research grant awards issued in FY 2017 and beyond. Any funds budgeted/requested for COLAs or for anticipatory or contingent personnel costs in future years will be removed from the budget and these funds may not be rebudgeted for other purposes.


Shan Lin’s NSF CAREER Award Focuses on Smart and Connected Hospitals

Shan Lin, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Stony Brook University, has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, one of the most prestigious honors given to support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through research education.

Lin will receive $450k during the next five years for his research — Safe and Secure Network Control for Smart and Connected Hospitals — which seeks to improve safety and security of networks in a hospital setting.

According to Lin, hospitals will benefit from the ability to collect critical data on a patient’s psychological state and the caregiver’s workflow using a new medical device and sensor network. This improvement in resources is expected to collect precise and complete data on patients for accurate documentation and maximum care quality, and enable big data analysis for medical application. Through this CAREER research, Lin will study and propose new medical applications and networking solutions, as well as design and deploy an open source medical device and sensor network.

Through his teaching efforts at Stony Brook, Lin will create graduate and undergraduate courses on mobile cloud computing and smart systems that will allow students to be involved in this groundbreaking research. If Lin’s research is as effective as intended, these improved medical technologies will likely be implemented in hospitals and medical facilities worldwide.

“I am really excited for and proud of Professor Lin and the entire college as this is our fourth CAREER award for this year,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS). “What better testament to the excellence of our junior faculty. Shan Lin’s work is at the frontier of engineering-driven medicine, a strategic thrust for CEAS. His work will help shape the hospitals of the future through the convergence of sensors, big data and analytics with health care delivery.”

Previous to his NSF CAREER award, Lin received five NSF grants, including Heterogeneous Large-Scale Telemedicine for Cardiology Patients, Multiple-level Predictive Control of Mobile Cyber Physical Systems with Correlated Context, and Non-isotropic Networked Sensor Deployment for Smart Buildings.

Please See our Current Limited Competitions Now!

See our Current Limited Competitions available now! Please contact us with any questions. 


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